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Ways to get by while on unemployment…


My budget was already threadbare but living with 50% less salary and on unemployment benefits has forced us to find ways to somehow reduce more.

First, we cut our dental and vision insurance. This is something that can easily be re-instated but the $25 a month can help me now.

Second, I cancelled all my appointments health related or otherwise. None of my appointments were an emergency and I requested that my doctor renew my prescriptions without the annual check-up since the last 6 years have been clear of any problems. These appointments and tests run in the neighborhood of $500.

Third, I called my cable company to cancel our cable, reduce our internet speed, and reduce our phone service. I explained our situation and was surprised when they offered reduced internet costs, reduced phone costs, and added free services and free channels for a 12 month period. I would tell you how much I’m paying – but I’m afraid they’ll figure out they made a huge mistake and ‘correct’ the discount… or fire the guy who gave it to me. I would have cut out the internet and phone entirely but my husband needs internet for school purposes and job searching late at night when he gets home (free internet at the library is closed) and I’m uncomfortable without a home phone for emergencies.

Fourth, I contacted my student loan company for a deferment.

Fifth, my husband and I contacted friends and family and let them know we’d be available for odd jobs. Since unemployment doesn’t start for nearly a month after a job loss, my husband has done everything from pulling weeds to insulating walls. I have been helping a company with paperwork at night after work. We use this money for groceries and for the important bills like electric and water. At no time should you feel you are ‘too good’ for any type of job.

Sixth, we cut off all our subscriptions and memberships. If you’re like us, you may not even remember you have some of them since they are automatically billed to your credit card and you may not look at each item on your online statement. Some examples: gym memberships, club memberships, magazine and newspaper subscriptions (some automatically renew unless you cancel). Savings – $50 a month.

Seventh, we’ve been using more public transportation. It takes twice as long to get somewhere, it’s uncomfortable, and it’s far from fun, but it saves $50-$75 a month.

It’s not a lot, but each item buys us a little more time.


  • Reply Cassie |

    Good for you, doing what you have to to survive with a job loss! It looks like you are really making every last dollar stretch as far as it possibly can and that’s something to be proud of!

    Odd jobs are such a great way to make extra money! And you are right.. no one is ever ‘too good’ for any type of job. Money is money!

  • Reply emmi |

    Wow, good job. Not to sound critical, but it sounds like you missed some stuff on the first reduction go-around. I guess that’s a good thing, now.

    Don’t forget to use your online networks to shop for odd jobs too. And if somehow your skill hubby ends up idle (I can’t see it, but, in case) he should volunteer a few days (Habitat, for example). That can be a great path to a job contact and it keeps your spirits up to be doing something constructive. (Not that he needs it, based on your earlier posts…)

  • Reply Dogfood Provider |

    Good for you, Beks. You’ve added $75 back in per month and saved $500 in one-time expenses, which is awesome. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for you and your hubs.

  • Reply Lizzie |

    I just read an article in Reader’s Digest about websites you can join where you can barter for services. Since you and your husband are so talented it might be something that could help you guys out…check it out :-)!

  • Reply c |

    FYI- have you tried out websites like mechanical turk (part of amazon) which allows you to complete different job activities- research ,articles etc for money.. depending on the job, the money earned can be quote different.

  • Reply XtraCr1spy |

    I read your blog on a regular basis (although I don’t leave many comments). I just wanted to say that you really are an inspiration. Your ability to stay this optimistic and do what needs to be done is incredible.

    Keep up the great work…and I hope things take a turn for the better in the near future!

  • Reply Shakela |

    You’re doing really good! Kudos to you for that. That’s a lot of cutting back. And some of those savings will continue to happen even when you get your jobs back. (Think unused subscriptions). You can do it. 🙂 You might also be able to get some help with using free clinics etc for the health care stuff.

  • Reply Stephanie |

    Try looking on craigslist for odd jobs under the “gigs” section. There is always a good number of people looking for someone to install toilets, repair holes in walls, etc.

  • Reply Jen |

    I don’t blame you for keeping the landline – I feel the same way. And, I agree that keeping the internet makes sense. It’s weird how it’s now a necessity!

    It’s a shame I’m all the way out in Boston, otherwise I’d hire you husband to change my bathroom fan… It’s one of those projects I should be able to do myself, but because I know it’ll take me a while to figure it all out I’m dragging my feet. 😛

  • Reply Nicole |

    Doesn’t a strict budget stink? The good side is that you find out how creative you can be and how much money you were wasting. I know that’s a lot for me. Necessities all of the sudden seem not so much : )

  • Reply mem |

    Those are all great ideas and steps — everyone would get out of debt a lot faster if they took similar steps early in the process and held out on upscaling lifestyle longer.

  • Reply Beks |

    mem – I don’t consider dental insurance, a gym membership, a newspaper subscription, seeing a doctor, working 19 hours a day, or paying student loans the definition of an upscale life. I could understand if I was letting go of a nanny or my yacht club membership, but I live far from an upscale life. I agree though, these steps become necessary to get by sometimes.

    C and Lizzy – Thanks for the help. I’ll have to look into it!

  • Reply Anita |

    Yes bare minimum living about rounds it up for those of us sinking in debt. I myself have cut back on things too, but seems isn’t enough and have to find ways to add to my income to really get above it.

So, what do you think ?